Monday, October 7, 2013

Jar of Sunshine- Part 5

              Sumitra had felt like a free bird when she had set foot in her village. She had breathed in the scents that she had grown up around and walked through the kaccha roads and fields. Her grandparents were a bit apprehensive but they tried to hide that and appeared glad to see her.
           
             Sumitra had rested her head in her grandmother's lap and wondered about her future. What would she do here that could ease their life? She had fallen asleep and for the first time in the last whole year, she had slept without a care. It had then come to her. She had woken up all of a sudden and told her grandmother. She would open a food service.

             With the small sum of money that Sunaina's father had lent her, she rented the small worn down shop near the market. Next she spread the word that she would open a meal service. For trial she started out with afternoon meals. She gathered that a lot of daily wagers and workers in the market shop would like to eat a different variety of food at a lower price. At the same time, the small offices in the market had people who would like a nice home cooked meal served hot.

            IT had been a success. She had also initiated her neighbors into her business. They sold their fresh field produce and milk to her. She started growing a few vegetables in her grandparent's backyard. Slowly and steadily, the profits grew and she bought a bigger place on rent. She hired help as the customers grew. Some people frowned at her for being a young girl and running a hotel business, but she took it in her stride.

          On her 17th birthday, she had a proper hotel, a house that had all the amenities and happy grandparents. It was the year she met Ram. He had seen her at her hotel and fallen in love with her beauty. When he came to know all about her from the village folks, he had made his mind to marry her. It was tough to make her agree but he had won her heart. Ram was an orphan and himself a small hotelier in another city. He had a few relatives in the village who took the proposal to Sumitra's grandparents. Within the year, they were married.

        Life changed for the best in years to come. She had sold her hotel and brought her grandparents with her. Ram had taken good care of them. His business prospered and they moved to a big villa with servants at their beck and call. Sumitra had all the comforts of life but her sunshine was her husband. He loved her deeply and always sought her advice in important matters. He supported her decisions and held her hand through them. In years to come, they had become inseparable. The years only added to their companionship. He had accepted her background and respected her for all that she had achieved. She had given her heart and soul to the man who stood by her through thick and thin.
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       Ram took a sharp turn. They were nearing Anuya nivas. Sumitra did not know what she would find there.
      They got out of the car. The house wore a deserted look. The climbers grew on the window. Pigeons sat on the sill. The steps were broken. They entered the compound. An old lady peeked from the door next to Anuya nivas.
      "Why have you come here? Didn't you have enough last year?" she asked her.

     How could she forget! Anuya and Sumitra had exchanged numbers. Out of the blue, Anuya had told her she was getting married soon. It had not occured to Sumitra to ask about her marriage. Anuya was 36 and Sumitra was 46 with two sons aged 20 and 23.  Anuya went on to talk to someone else.

    Sunaina, who had met Sumitra earlier, grabbed her by the arm.
  " Don't believe what she says. She's been talking like that for a few years now." She had whispered.
  "Like what?" Sumitra had asked incredulously.
  " I shouldn't be saying this, Anuya has lost her mind. That entire family is doomed. Ishwar Narayan lost his job when the company closed down in 1994. He has been doing odd jobs since then. Anuya tried her hand at jobs but failure to find a match for her was depressing her. That sister of hers has had a chain of affairs.We stopped counting how many! The boy was good but he too ended up becoming a drunkard. One might say years of curses have manifested but Anuya is a sad sight."

   Sumitra was dumbstruck with what Sunaina revealed. She had never imagined Anuya to have met this fate. She had loved Anuya the best.

   "Sumitra, come its time to go to the temple." Anuya had grabbed her hand.
   "Anuya, wait." She had freed herself uneasily.
   " There is no one who is marrying you." Rukmini appeared from  nowhere. She had become more bitter with time Sumitra thought.
    "I m telling you I m getting married you stupid woman. Why can't you see me happy" She had become violent and reached for a knife that was laying with fruits. There was a chaos as people hurried with fear. Anuya had slashed her wrist. It was as if Sumitra had come to the funeral of two people she knew the best from this city.

     Ishwar Narayan was too proud to admit that his beloved daughter needed medical help. Rukmini had turned a ghost of herself. Her sparse hair, skin clinging to her bones and hollow eyes had made Sumitra pity her. Anuya had recuperated from the wounds and doctors had suggested she be given psychiatric help. Ishwar Narayan had looked helpless and broken down. He had no money to afford such care.

    Anuya was nowhere close. Sumitra caught hold of a boy in the locality and told him to call Ishwar Narayan who stayed in a small rented house at a distance. Ram and Sumitra went to the Ganesh temple. They couldn't find her even there.

    "Are you searching for me" said a voice she recognized too well.
    "Anuya, how did you come here?" Sumitra asked scared to see her. Her hair was a mess and she wore a blue hospital gown.
    " It is my marriage today."
     She looked at Ram for some help but he looked clueless as well. They tried to keep her off the edge of the temple which had a deep mangrove on the other side.

     Rukmini and Ishwar Narayan reached the temple and were shocked to see their daughter. For a moment they thought Anuya had become well looking at her behavior but her garb said otherwise. Ram had offered to help to get Anuya good care. She had somehow escaped and still had Sumitra's contact number.
   
    The sight of her parents bewildered Anuya. She became violent again. Not heeding to anything they said, she jumped off the edge. Amid the shouts of all, Sumitra turned mute with fear.  

    Sumitra and Ram could do nothing.

    Ishwar Narayan and Rukmini got the worst punishment ever any parent could get. Their daughter committed suicide in front of their eyes.

    Ram and Sumitra returned home late that night. Anuya's body was found and she was cremated.

    Sumitra reclined on the bed, her head heavy with the events that had unfolded.
    "No one can beat Karma Sumitra. Anuya got the returns of her parents' karma."
    " I told her about the jar of sunshine. I wonder if she ever found hers."
    " She would find it.." He held his wife and wiped her tears.
 
                                          


-Inspired by a true story

8 comments:

the little princess said...

ur karma always gets back to u...i believe that too...this could easily become a movie....well written series Maithili. writing series have kind of gone off blogosphere..very rarely u see someone writing them nowadays...nicely written..

Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

Agree to the above. People barely even writes stories or long posts these days. Writing a series needs that kind of passion and talent. I am glad I found your blog...Enjoyed this story, the names of characters and everything in it.

Rhythm said...

no matter how much you hide, karma gets back to you, to repay you for your actions with interest..
loved the story :)

maithili said...

Thank you so much :) Writing series requires a lot of commitment and besides the readers get easily bored if its not kept interesting so its quite a challenge. Smaller posts are safer but I can never completely do justice to the story if its short.. Some stories require their time :)

maithili said...

It has got to do with our nanosecond attention spans and impatience to sit through a story :P
Thank you so much

maithili said...

Yes karma gets back. only sometimes it pays you back by hurting someone close to you :(

Sreeja Praveen said...

Read all the parts in one go .... Really beautiful narration. I can very well visualise the events unfolding before my eyes !!
Good one, Maithili !
And yes, Karma takes us up and brings us down.... as we sow, so shall we reap ! Isn't it ?

maithili said...

Thank you so much Sreeja :)
yes, as we sow, so shall we reap. Karma comes around ..